Gurez, Jul 31 : The two-day Gurez festival organized the Department of Tourism and District administration Bandipora which concluded successfully here saw an overwhelming response from the locals and the tourists.
The festival marked the display of rich art, craft, culture, heritage and sports activities enthralling the huge gathering.
Earlier on Tuesday Principal Secretary Animal and Sheep Husbandry Department, Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon inaugurated the festival.
The inaugural day of the festival attracted a large number of people from Gurez villages who converged at Dawar to celebrate the carnival. Men, women, senior citizens and children wearing colourful clothes participated in the festival.
On the occasion, several 24 Departments including the Department of Handicrafts, Handloom, NRLM, Fisheries, Forests, Agriculture, Horticulture, Indian System of Medicines and Tourism had installed several stalls to showcase local products. The stalls attracted a large number of people who not only purchased several products but were also informed about the rich heritage and culture of the Gurez valley.
Dr Asgar Samoon said that the aim of organizing such festivals is to promote the Gurez valley as a tourism destination. He said the Gurez Valley, in particular, has everything to offer for tourists of all types be it site seeing or adventure tourism.
He said the Government is keen to bring the Valley on the international tourist map and called for improving tourism infrastructure in Gurez Valley while taking care of its flora and fauna.
He said measures are being taken to improve connectivity to the picturesque valley particularly during winter months to boost the tourist arrival.
Complimenting the Department of Tourism for organizing the festival in Gurez, Dr Samoon said a separate tourism development authority is in offing for the Gurez valley that will help in further improving the facilities for tourists besides helping in having a planned, eco-friendly and sustainable development.
He said such festivals help promote and highlight local culture and the beauty of the places. He assured the people that more steps shall be taken to attract tourists towards the Valley by highlighting its beauty and culture.
Dr Samoon said the place will also be promoted for adventure sports like trekking, white water rafting, mountain biking, angling and heritage tours to inform people about the silk root that passed through Gurez to Central Asia.
Speaking on the occasion, Director Tourism Kashmir Nisar Ahmad Wani said Gurez is a virgin beauty, which attracts travellers from within and outside the country.
He said the department has been making every effort to promote this beautiful valley at Travel Trade Fairs, Roadshows and has published extensive publicity material to showcase its culture, heritage, art and craft in addition to its scintillating beauty.
Dir Tourism Gurez has huge potential for adventure tourism also as many bikers and hikers visit the place exploring its beauty.
Deputy Commissioner Bandipora Shahbaz Ahmad Mirza also spoke on the occasion and highlighted the measures being taken to develop infrastructure in Gurez Valley.
He said the Gurez has huge potential for tourism and can generate huge employment opportunities for the youth. He said the role of private stakeholders is important in developing the tourism infrastructure and urged the people to invest in this sector in Gurez.
Meanwhile, a range of activities took place on the first day of the festival at Dawar where a galaxy of Kashmiri and Sheena artists enthralled the audience by playing several musical programmes in Kashmiri and Sheena language. The programmes presented an overall picture of the Dard culture and Kashmiri Culture and the blend of both with a special focus on the traditional folk dance of Gurez, local songs and its indigenous musical instruments.
Assistant Commissioner Revenue Reyaz Ahmad Beigh flagged off a bike and cycle rallies from Bandipora to Gurez valley. The cyclists and the bikers travelled through hilly terrain through Razdan pass to reach Dawar in Gurez valley. The aim of the rallies was to promote adventure tourism potential of the area.
On a concluding day today, the bikers were also facilitated.
Deputy Director Enforcement Amarjit Singh, Deputy Secretary Tourism Wasim Raja, Deputy Director M&W Zahoor Ahmad, Deputy Director Publicity Riyaz Ahmad, Deputy Director Recreation Sarfaraz Mohammad were also present on the occasion.